Keyword cannibalization can cause you issues but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it proves your SEO strategies are successful if you’ve got two or more pages making it to a SERP (Search engine results page).
On the one hand, it means you’re doing something right, but you need to make small adjustments to get your visitors landing on your ideal page.
So let’s get into ways to fix keyword cannibalization.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization happens when you have two pages or more competing on the same SERP which negatively impacts your sites SEO. Hence the term ‘keyword cannibalization’. This usually happens when you have two pages ranking for the same keyword.
So why is Keyword Cannibalization a bad thing?
Let’s say you have a blog post with the same keyword as your homepage. Which is more important for your visitors to land on?
Ideally you want visitors to be coming through to your homepage, as this is the page where you’ll be engaging users and expecting them to convert. Your blog post page will whet their appetites, but it’s not driving users through your sales funnel. Essentially you’re being left with diminished authority, a lower click-through rate and even lower conversion rates than you’d achieve from having just one target page.
Why Keyword Cannibalization is Bad For Your Website
- Diminished pages/authority
- Lower click-through rate (CTR)
- Lower conversions
- Google will devalue your more relevant page
- Result in rankings for both pages decreasing
- Dilutes links and anchor text
Having competing pages through keyword cannibalization usually means that both pages are being diminished and are considered lower quality. You’re not only splitting the CTR but the content, links and conversions too. It diminishes the breadth and depth of your knowledge and authority to Google.
Google is then essentially being asked by you to weigh up your pages against each other and for it to decide itself which page best suits the competing keywords.
This means you’ve turned your pages into competitors, which are now against each other for page views and SERP ranks.
Instead, it is best to focus on one highly relative page.
Lower conversions and results in lower SERP rankings for both pages:
With two or more competing pages, it is likely that new visitors aren’t all being directed to one high conversion page, rather they are being split across several. This keyword cannibalization results in higher bounce rates on both pages as visitors are more dissatisfied with the page they’ve found. As we know from our last blog post, “How Google ranks our websites”, high bounce rates harm our SERP rankings.
By focusing energy and focus on one high conversion page is much better than trying to split it across several.
Google will devalue your more relevant page:
Google uses keywords to help understand what our pages are about. If you have more than one page with the same keyword, it is then up to Google to decide which page is the best fit. There’s a high chance Google will decide the wrong page is best and devalue your more preferred pages.
Dilutes links and anchor text:
Your links are also being split among multiple pages, which is sending people in several directions for essentially the same information. It is far better to concentrate the value of internal links and anchor link texts on one page.
How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization?
If you’ve had your website a while now, you may not even realise that you could be cannibalizing keywords. Identifying possible keyword cannibalization on your website is easy to do.
Steps to take:
Conduct a search with your domain name plus the keyword you’re looking for.
Say for example we are looking for keyword cannibalization on our website ‘wcic.tech’ for the keywords ‘grow startups’.
We would type “wcic.tech, grow startups”
From the SERP results you can see which pages rank higher than the others for the same keywords, if there are duplicate pages.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization on Your Website
If you’ve found instances of keyword cannibalization on your website fret not! There are many ways to solve keyword cannibalization easily. some of the more common and most effective methods include:
- Restructure your website through internal linking
- 301 redirects/ Merge content
- Delete content
- Create new landing pages
- Content alterations
- Create new keywords
- Canonical tags
Restructure your website:
Restructuring your website is sometimes the better option to take, especially if you realise you have improvements to make across the board.
So take your most authoritative page, and turn this into the landing page of your targeted keywords. Links can then be sent to and from this main page.
Your internal linking is key to restructuring your website.
Any links pointing to an undesirable page with duplicate keywords need to be removed and changed to your main landing page.
For more help on internal linking, you can check out our post, How to Create a Pillar Content Marketing Strategy.
301 redirects / merged content:
If you have content that is extremely similar with already matching keywords then this is a possible solution for you. It works by allowing you to consolidate your cannibalized content by linking all less authoritative pages to a more authoritative page.
Use a 301 redirect on every duplicate page. This will remove undesirable pages off the SERP and users will come through directly to your most valuable page.
Merging your content is a better option if you don’t have unique enough individual pages. This will certainly serve to fix thin content pages and create one super authoritative page. Therefore increasing your website’s SEO score.
No one wants to delete hard-earned content. But in some circumstances, this is the best option.
The best way to decide if content should be deleted is to only delete irrelevant content. This is content that doesn’t serve the purpose of your website. Having irrelevant content will only confuse Google when it’s reading your website to see what you’re all about.
Create new landing pages:
Having new landing pages allows you to consolidate all your pages in one place. Your landing page will serve as your authoritative source page, where you can then link to pages from there.
Content alterations is probably the easiest and most desirable way to deal with keyword cannibalization.
The easiest way is to change the content focus so that it does not apply to your keyword.
Create new keywords:
Following from content alterations, you can then remove old and select new keywords for your less desirable duplicate page. The keywords must accurately describe the content of your page.
When you have two pages which are essentially saying the same thing but presented differently you can use canonical tags to tell Google which page is the more relevant for the search query.
How to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization?
The most efficient way of preventing your website from keyword cannibalization is being organised and keeping a list.
Create a spreadsheet of each of your URLs and their corresponding keywords.
By carefully selecting your relevant keywords per URL, you’ll maximise your chances of appearing on the SERP and lower your chances of negative impacts on your site. For tips on selecting the right keywords for your website check out our blog post on How to Improve Keyword Ranking in Google.
When two or more of your pages are competing on a SERP then it’s up to you to decide how badly these need to be rectified. Sometimes keyword cannibalization is a good thing as long as you aren’t harming your sales funnel.
But likewise, being able to properly communicate to search engines which of your duplicate pages are more relevant for your chosen keyword is crucial to converting more visitors to your website.